February 7th, 2012
01:00 PM ET

'Responsibility to Protect' in crisis

Editor's Note: Stewart Patrick is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of Weak Links: Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security. He writes the blog The Internationalist on CFR.org where this was originally published.

By Stewart M. PatrickCFR.org

On Saturday, Russia and China cast a double veto of a UN Security Council resolution backing an Arab League peace plan for an orderly departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria, and the creation of a transitional government in that country. This was the fourth time since 2007 that the duo has vetoed resolutions criticizing brutal crackdowns in Myanmar (2007), Zimbabwe (2008), and Syria (2011, 2012).

The proposal sought to end eleven bloody months in Syria, which now threatens to spiral into a civil, and potentially regional, conflict. The veto came on the heels of a brutal massacre by the Syrian government in the town of Homs, where reports suggest that scores of people have died—and on the thirtieth anniversary of the Hama massacre in which ten thousand Syrians perished at the hands of Assad’s father, Hafez al-Assad. FULL POST

Warning: Syria is much stronger than Libya
Syrian army special forces prepare for tomorrow's farewell ceremony at the Rayaq Lebanese military airport near the Syrian border 25 April 2005. (Getty Images)
September 7th, 2011
03:00 PM ET

Warning: Syria is much stronger than Libya

Editor’s Note: Shashank Joshi is a doctoral student at Harvard University and an Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.

By Shashank Joshi – Special to CNN

In Syria, the Assad dynasty is teetering. Protests have breached the two largest cities, around 2,200 citizens have been killed, and oil and gas sanctions will soon cripple the public purse. Civil war isn’t guaranteed – there’s a slim chance that loyalists dump President Assad and cede a little power to widen their base – but, as Hussein Ibish writes in The Atlantic, ‘with the Libya model presenting itself … as an alternative stratagem, the drift towards conflict is starting to feel palpable’.

So palpable, in fact, that some – like Michael O’Hanlon on this site – have begun surveying the West’s military options. That is why it is important to be clear about why Syria differs from Libya in important ways. FULL POST

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Topics: Humanitarian intervention • Libya • Middle East • Military • Syria
How Gadhafi's fall vindicated Obama and RtoP
National Security Council Senior Director Samantha Power led the drafting of PSD-10, the Presidential Study Directive on Mass Atrocities. (Getty Images)
August 29th, 2011
04:00 AM ET

How Gadhafi's fall vindicated Obama and RtoP

Editor's Note: Stewart Patrick is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of Weak Links: Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security.

By Stewart Patrick, Foreign Affairs

The fall of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is a significant foreign policy triumph for U.S. President Barack Obama. By setting overall strategy while allowing others to shoulder the burden of implementing it, the Obama administration achieved its short-term objective of stopping Gadhafi's atrocities and its long-term one of removing him from power. This was all done at a modest financial cost, with no U.S. troops on the ground, and zero U.S. casualties. Meanwhile, as the first unambiguous military enforcement of the Responsibility to Protect norm, Gadhafi's utter defeat seemingly put new wind in the sails of humanitarian intervention.

One must be careful, however, not to overdraw lessons from the Libyan experience. It was a unique case and is unlikely to be repeated.


Catastrophe in the Horn: Causes and responses
A Somali child suffering from severe acute malnutrition sits in a ward of the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) NGO in Dadaab in Kenya on July 22, 2011. MSF is currently treating over 7000 children for malnutrition in this one of three camp at Dadaab. With the worst drought in 60 years hitting the Horn of Africa, the flow of Somali refugees arriving at the camp has increased over recent months, putting resources there under severe strain. (Getty Images)
July 27th, 2011
04:30 PM ET

Catastrophe in the Horn: Causes and responses

Editor's Note: Stewart M. Patrick is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (where he writes the blog The Internationalist) and Director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance. The following is reposted from his blog.

By Stewart M. Patrick, CFR.org

The area straddling Somalia, Ethiopia and northern Kenya, has been dubbed the “triangle of death” as the worst drought in more than fifty years grips the area. An estimated thirty percent of children are malnourished, many arriving in refugee camps so “emaciated and with skin lesions so deep that you could see their bones showing in their skulls and arms.” According to testimony by State Department official Reuben Brigety, acute malnutrition has reached 50% and 40%, respectively, in Ethiopia and Kenya—far above the 15% threshold for an international humanitarian emergency.

The causes of this emergency are complex, and the international effort to address the situation is well-intentioned, but the crisis demands a broader and dramatic reaction, which sadly, remains improbable. FULL POST

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Topics: Africa • Aid • Famine • Food • Humanitarian intervention
Shashi Tharoor on Libya and Indian corruption
April 12th, 2011
09:36 AM ET

Shashi Tharoor on Libya and Indian corruption

With a growth rate of over 8% and a billion-plus population, India will undoubtedly play a critical role shaping this new century. But what kind of role will that be?

Last month, India joined Russia, China, Brazil and Germany in abstaining from the vote for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, approving “all necessary measures” to protect civilians from attack in Libya.  What does this move suggest about India’s foreign policy, and about its role in the United Nations?

Shashi Tharoor, a member of the Indian Parliament and an experienced UN hand, explains how India's colonial history informed its decision to abstain. He also discusses why the corruption crises rocking India will be healthy in the long-run, and what India can do to stabilize Afghanistan.


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Topics: Economy • Humanitarian intervention • India • Libya • Perspectives • Politics
The month that remade multilateralism?
Mark Malloch-Brown (left) with then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2005.
April 7th, 2011
04:04 PM ET

The month that remade multilateralism?

Mark Malloch Brown, who has served as Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and a deputy UK Foreign Minister, and who recently published the book The Unfinished Global Revolution, says the United Nations has made great gains over the past few weeks, but must ensure that the fragile coalition supporting international intervention does not unravel.

Check out the Q&A transcript.


April 6th, 2011
04:59 PM ET

Discussing the "Responsibility to Protect"


Here’s the definition of the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) from the International Coalition for R2P:

1. The State carries the primary responsibility for the protection of populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

2. The international community has a responsibility to assist States in fulfilling this responsibility.

3. The international community should use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means to protect populations from these crimes. If a State fails to protect its populations or is in fact the perpetrator of crimes, the international community must be prepared to take stronger measures, including the collective use of force through the UN Security Council.


March 25th, 2011
10:43 AM ET

Don't forget: we stopped a massacre

Tom Malinowski is the Washington Director for Human Rights Watch. Previously, he was special assistant to President Bill Clinton and senior director for foreign policy speechwriting at the National Security Council.

I talked to Tom this morning about humanitarian intervention in Libya. “Obama did it right,” Tom says, “He acted before calamity happened, and as a result, he ironically gets less credit.”

Here’s what else Tom had to say:

“We shouldn’t forget what would have almost certainly have happened in Benghazi had we not acted. There would have been a humanitarian catastrophe.

“We [Human Rights Watch] have gotten a look at the arsenal that Gadhafi was racing up the road to Benghazi and it was quite a considerable amount of firepower: tanks, artillery, rocket systems and anti-personal and anti-tank mines.


March 22nd, 2011
08:14 AM ET

Why isn’t the world intervening in Bahrain as it did in Libya?

Editor’s NoteKristin Diwan is Assistant Professor of Comparative and Regional Studies at the American University School of International Service. Her work focuses on the politics and policies of the Arab Gulf.

By Dr. Kristin Diwan – Special to CNN

The international community is intervening to stop killing in Libya. But it is standing by as the Bahraini government - aided by the Saudis and broader Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) - suppresses its own people with brutal force.

Bahraini opposition groups have petitioned the United Nations to intervene on their behalf.  U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his "deepest concern" at the use of "excessive and indiscriminate force ... against unarmed civilians.” Yet there are no plans for U.N.-sponsored action.

Why isn’t the world acting in Bahrain as it did in Libya?


March 15th, 2011
02:08 PM ET

China flexes its military muscles

Recently, China moved a 4,000-ton frigate, fully armed with air-defense missiles, to the Libyan coast.  This was the first time in history that a Chinese warship has been deployed in a mission as far away as the Mediterranean Sea, and perhaps the first time the Chinese have intervened in another country to launch a major humanitarian rescue mission.

By all accounts, it was an impressive effort. China successfully helped thousands of its citizens evacuate war-torn Libya.

Countries that see themselves as China's competitors were a little miffed.


January 9th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

GPS January 9, 2011: Predictions for 2011 and an interview with George Clooney

Will Obama turn his fortunes around? Will gridlock cripple Washington? And what is the next international crisis? You will hear predictions from our all-star panel.

Then, George Clooney on a crisis that could explode in Africa – Sudan. He explains the problem and his very interesting solution.

Read the transcript here.

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Topics: Global • GPS Episodes • GPS Show • Humanitarian intervention • Politics